St. Patrick, the slave

“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

There is quite a bit of discrepancy about the real story of the life of St. Patrick, primarily because he lived so long ago that over time fact has become legend and legend has become myth. However, the best evidence suggests that Patrick was born and raised in Celtic Wales. At an early age he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland where he would live in forced servitude as a slave for a number of years. As the story goes, one evening Patrick was visited by an angel in a dream, and was instructed to travel to the shore where a boat would be waiting to take him to freedom. Patrick returned to his native home, even becoming a member of the clergy over time.

Later in life, Patrick was again visited by an angel (named Victor) who approached him in a dream with letters written by his former pagan Irish oppressors. “As he read one of the letters, he imagined in that moment that he heard the voice of those very people…and they cried out, as with one voice, ‘We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.’”[1] When Patrick awoke the next day, he set out to minister to the very people that had once imprisoned him.  The movement that Patrick began in Ireland would result in the conversion of so many Irish people that even today that are still over 6,000 place names that contain “the element Cill – the old Gaelic word for church.”[2]

Through what kind of eyes do you view other people? Patrick’s mission in Ireland was a success because once he began to see the Irish people through God’s eyes, he could not help but love them. The power of that love, as revealed through the eyes of God, transformed a people that Patrick had once felt only disdain for into the faces of those who were loved so very much by God that for them (yes, even them), God would give His only begotten Son. If you want to live a more blessed life, then ask God to help you to see other people through His eyes. If you do, then you may very well find those blessings hiding in places that you never expected them to be.

[1] George Hunter, III, (The Celtic Way of Evangelism. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010), 3.

[2] Hunter, 14.

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